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Extending Voters’ Education to the Crucial Sectors

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.3, No.2
by Joan Jamisolamin and Nestor M. Banuag, Jr. (Chairperson), Volunteers, NAMFREL-CDO/Misamis
Oriental
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The sight of young people carrying huge placards and walking around the public markets is something that is not seen everyday, and indeed they drew the attention of vendors, hawkers, buyers, passersby and commuters. They were NAMFREL Volunteers encouraging people at the market to go out during election day and conscientiously vote. This was a new arena where NAMFREL CDO-Mis.Or. Chapter brought their voters’ education program (VEP) to. According to a survey conducted by Xavier University, the vendors at the public markets were one of the sectors which has a very low voters turnout. Reportedly, many of the vendors prefer to go about their business of the day and earn their daily income, than spend time in long lines during the election. This situation points to a low appreciation of their right to suffrage and a lack of interest to participate in the democratic process of the selection of national and local leaders. ..  
 
 
.   .. The CDO-Mis.Or. Chapter of NAMFREL rose to the challenge to reach out and quite literally bring the VEP into the streets, where most of the masses are, representing a critical percentage of the voting population and would certainly influence the outcome of the voting results. NAMFREL Volunteers, mostly students, conducted market visits in the Carmen and Cogon Public Markets, visiting stall owners and distributing leaflets. Their placards held simple messages, such as “Choose the Right Candidates!,” “No to Vote-Buying!” and also provided basic information, such as the time of voting, and reminders on the voting process. The market visit was closely coordinated with the City Philippine National Police, who monitored the security of the volunteers. There were several visits conducted by the young NAMFREL volunteers to Cogon and Carmen Public Markets. 
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The CDO-Mis.Or. Chapter also conducted regular education sessions with the students and with community partners. Voters’ education sessions were conducted in Xavier University, Capitol University, Pilgrim Christian College and Lourdes University, among others. This was organized in partnership with the National Service Training Program Implementers, Kagayanon for Good Governance (KGG) Youth, and the Central Student Government Office per school. Community sessions were held at Tambo, Macasandig with the Nina Maria Learning Center through its community members.

NAMFREL CDO-Mis.Or. trained and prepared volunteers to facilitate and assist in these Voters’ Education activities. The VEP is an important component in massively disseminating new rules and procedures related to the automated polls.

The May 2013 Election was only the second time which the Philippines conducted automated polls. A significant part of the session was spent on explaining how the PCOS machine works, and what the voters need to know to properly vote and cast their ballots. The Voters’ Education sessions also served as recruitment platform for the Chapter to invite more volunteers for mobile pollwatching on election day. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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